It always amazes me when old things make a comeback.
Whether it’s the music you liked when you were a kid, questionable fashion choices (how many times are bell-bottoms coming back?) or 80’s-nostalgia-fueled Netflix shows.
And it’s happening in marketing, too, where the next big thing in B2B goes all the way back to the beginning of online marketing: the email newsletter.
Here’s what we’re unpacking today:
- How email is making a comeback
- How cool new strategies can get stale fast
- Why inbound is better than outbound for newsletters
- Why is the newsletter coming back now?
- Why you should treat your members like part of the family
The old becomes new
Ryan: It’s been interesting watching everybody double down on social and these new channels, which I think is smart.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t, but there’s one channel in particular that everybody seems to have forgotten about and it’s quietly having a bit of a Renaissance.
I don’t see a lot of people talking about it because it’s just a little bit old and uncool: email. Specifically, the good old fashioned email newsletter.
If there’s one channel right now that is delivering better results for us than any other, it’s email.
I used to do this before blogs or any of this new stuff existed. The way that we communicated with our list was through email newsletters. But then something happened — blogging, content marketing, inbound…
And I remember when it happened, I suddenly decided email was stupid. Why would I want to send out content via email? I should start publishing to our blog so more people will see it.
When we did that, we stopped putting content in our subscribers’ inboxes and we started saying “Go read the content over here.”
Then social happened and we said, “Let’s put the content on the social channels now.”
The new gets old
Ryan: Then the social channels got inundated with noise and ads. Engagement has been on a steady decline.
And if you look at the effectiveness of blogging and organic content — I mean, nobody is going out and reading your blog. The people who find do, they find it in search. It’s a new group of people every day.
But we found is the engagement in our email has been going up as long as we’ve been putting content into people’s inboxes.
Inbound vs. outbound
Ryan: We don’t do a lot with outbound email.
Everybody knows the outbound model: We’re going to do outbound cold calling, cold emailing, etc. Really simple, right?
It works to a certain extent, but it’s really been on the decline.
Then there’s inbound. The inbound model is to produce a lot of free content. People will see it and they’ll want to gain access to our gated content.
Ryan: Here’s how we’re doing it: We buy advertising on Google, Facebook and Instagram — I know, advertising is a crazy concept for a lot of inbound marketers out there.
Oh, by the way, if you’re in B2B and you think “Instagram isn’t going to work for me because I’m in B2B, I should only be on LinkedIn,” you’re wrong, I’ll just say it. It works.
Anyway, we’ll advertise on these different platforms and offer a tool. If you give them a really cool tool if they become an insider, member or subscriber then you productize the email list.
And that’s a key feature.
Ryan: The email newsletter is having a Renaissance again because of the experience on a mobile device.
People talk about what apps you opening all day and, yeah, it’s going to be your Instagram and your Facebook, but there’s one app that everybody seems to have forgotten about, which gets opened all day, every day.
That’s the email app.
And the experience of reading an email through the email app is actually a really phenomenal experience. Unlike Instagram, where you’ve got your feed and it’s just this never-ending thing where you never really get any sense of satisfaction.
There’s value; there’s content there. I didn’t have to click on anything or go anywhere.
So people are really enjoying subscribing to newsletters again. It still comes down to quality, but this is a big opportunity.
Members, not email just addresses
Ryan: Don’t merely say “Hey, become an insider, sign up for my newsletter.”
Instead, offer cool content or tools like calculators, templates—those sorts of things. And say, “We’ve got this, but it’s available for insiders only. So sign up to become an insider.”
But, once they sign up, you’ve got to treat them like a member.
So often, especially in B2B, people get onto a list and we say, “Yeah, here’s that thing you asked for.” And then, the only followup that person gets is from a sales rep.
Welcome them. Invite conversation.
Really treat it like a free level of product. It’s that important. It’s that valuable.